Cael and I have spent a great deal of time lately discussing the future. Nothing heavy, of course, no predictions for the presidential election or solutions for lowering gas prices. Instead, he's shared with me the details as he considers the path his life might take, and I've struggled to find the right words of support.
career, for example. At four years old, his understanding of "work" is
limited to getting up in the morning, donning a tie, and coming home
after dark and eating a bowl of ice cream in front of the television.
"A guy that drives a big semi."
"A truck driver?"
"Yeah, that would be so, so cool!"
not the occupation I would have chosen for my son. I was expecting
something more like "a baseball player" or "a fireman" or even "teach
music, like Daddy!" But as all good parents are instructed to do, I
tell him that he can be whatever he wants. And if a lifetime behind the
wheel with a John Deere cap and AM radio is what he wants for his life,
so be it.
"Maybe I'll be a 'struction guy."
"A construction worker?"
"Yeah. I could break up stuff."
"You are really strong, but I think you could do so much more."
See, that wasn't very supportive.
"I could cook food instead."
That was more like it. Hearing him suggest a future with the career I'd most love for myself, I had to smile.
"You want to be a chef?"
"I want to be a cook. I want to make burgers and fries."
at about this time when I start debating the merit of telling your
child to choose their own destiny. I picture a future where we move to
an obscure country in Europe where I can choose the path he'll take on
his behalf, even selecting the woman he'll marry so as to avoid the
realistic potential future in which he spends his life alone, watching
episodes of Caillou and assembling model trains.
"There are so many neat jobs and things to do, and I'm sure you'll figure out what's right for you when you're older."
I finally found the right words. But tell me-- is there ever an appropriate
response for when your four-year-old tells you he hopes he grows up to
have a pee-pee as big as a horse?